Petite League’s Most Thrilling Album Yet – Thrill Seekers
Thrill Seekers is a souped-up Honda Civic running on melted down copies of Marshall Crenshaw’s first record mixed with shards of the cutout copy of Heat Treatment that I left on the counter at Cheap Thrills a long time ago.
Lorenzo Gillis Cook wrote these 13 gems and does the vocals, guitar, and bass. Henry Schoonmaker plays the drums, doing some of his best work yet. The final track, “Disarray” is a full band effort with Adam Greenberg on guitar and Kevin McCallum on bass. Both are credited as producers. And it rocks. Juno also contributes some subtle vocals on “Patience.” Jon Searles did the mixing and mastering, bravo sir, bravo. Brandon Celi did the art, and its fab. Simon Type did, not surprisingly, the type.
When I reviewed Petite League’s last album, Joyride, I saw in Cook Brian Wilson – post-surf-hits and pre-debilitation. But while this guy shares the sense of vulnerability and the strength to run head on into it that drove Wilson in those days, Cook comes from another tradition. He don’t need no Wrecking Crew to seek thrills. Instead, he follows on the heels of a series of guitar players who knew that six strings are in fact the truth. Chuck Berry, John Lennon, Neil Young, Curt Cobain, Jim James, and now Lorenzo Cook. It’s not that he sounds like any of these guys. Just like they didn’t sound like each other. It’s about etching life into vinyl with a guitar and a voice, knowing blood will be spilled, if not intentionally, whether you like it or not.
On Thrill Seekers, Henry Schoonmaker does his best drumming work yet. I love “Hurricane Shimmy” in particular. What he does fits Cook’s vision well. And bringing the boys in on “Dissaray,” well, it works brother. “Bench clearing homerun hitter” may mix up the metaphors a little bit, but man it makes solid contact. I can’t think of an album on which an artist so successfully challenged themselves to broaden their song-writing pallet while pushing their voice to new limits since Elvis Costello released Get Happy.
Drop the needle anywhere and you’ll find a riff that sounds like the first bite of a donut and lyrics that look just a little tougher than they are. I’ll pick “Nite Stairs.” The guitar tone is what Neil Young aimed for at some point, but not never quite captured. And when the dynamic shifts to acoustic guitar breaks, your heart’ll break. “I left to rust, in a sun shower. Kickin’ up dust, in a wild fire. Maybe meant to try, goin’ alone. I don’t think that’s true, since I met you.” You wish she were talking to you. And luckily, he is.
This album, though, for me, isn’t about the individual songs, which don’t so much end as challenge you not to forget them, as the next one fights to take its place. It’s a rock and roll album. It’s girls, real and metaphoric. It’s what you think about when doing the laundry. It’s violence in your head. It’s a Mets loss hurting like, well, sin. It’s life will not beat the boy out of me. It’s Mexican coke. It’s listening in the dark with only the receiver’s glow. It’s young love that may or may not involve young people. It’s cheating death in so many ways. Because that’s what we do. So, we might as well be up front about it. It’s not fiction. It’s as real as your imagination. But that’s only in your head, you say? I don’t know about your head. But what’s in mine seems pretty real to me.
At one point, Cook sings “I do it for me, as much as I do it for you.” It rings out as a confession of sorts. It’s as if he doesn’t realize that most of us just do it for ourselves. And that’s just one reason why his fans love him
You can buy “Thrill Seekers” on vinyl until it sells out, which it will, quickly, and get Petite League’s previous releases on the band’s Bandcamp page: https://petiteleague.bandcamp.com